- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

DULAC, La. (AP) - After a few years of steady prices, Louisiana shrimpers are watching the prices for their catches plummet this season.

Nicholas Rodrigue, a shrimper from Dulac, tells The Courier (https://bit.ly/1J234Cq) Last year he was getting $2 a pound. This year the price has dropped to 55 cents.

Shrimp season for waters within three miles of the coast opened May 18.

Rodrigue, who can bring in about 4,000 to 4,500 pounds of shrimp during a trip, said the low prices offered by local docks have been making it difficult to pay expenses.

“Between high fuel and groceries, you ain’t making no money,” he said. “And you can’t say, well I’m going to tie up the boat because when you tie up the boat you’re still not making money.”

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data, smaller shrimp, comprising 41 to 50 per pound, went for $3.75 per pound a year ago and $3 in 2013,

Rodrigue said locally similar catches sold for $2.30, but have dropped to 75 cents to 80 cents this season.

On Monday, Dean Blanchard of Dean Blanchard Seafood on Grand Isle said he paid 95 cents for 40-50s, a price slightly higher than others in Lafourche and Terrebonne.

“I told them my boats wasn’t going to work for those cheap prices. They just couldn’t make it,” he said.

Inshore shrimpers compete with offshore boats that have an earlier season and foreign shrimpers who have flooded the market with imported shrimps.

Blanchard said a disease among imported shrimp during the past few years cut down on the competition. Now foreign inventory is back up, but countries with stricter import standards won’t take them.

“The Europeans are refusing to buy them, the Germans are refusing to buy them, the Mexicans are refusing to buy them and we’re buying them all,” he said. “So there’s a product that can’t be sold anywhere in the civilized world but the United States.”

Those in the local shrimp industry said shrimpers this year are bringing in more smaller brown shrimp and fewer large white shrimp than most years.

Industry observers cite natural variations in the tide and a season that was opened too late by state officials as possible reasons.

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Information from: The Courier, https://www.houmatoday.com

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